Southern Baptist leader reprimanded, show canceled - WSMV Channel 4

Southern Baptist leader reprimanded, show canceled

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The Southern Baptist Convention's ethics chief has been reprimanded and his radio show canceled after he made inflammatory comments about the Tray von Martin case.

Among other things, Richard Land accused President Barack Obama and other black leaders of shamefully exploiting Martin's death for political gain.

"Race hustlers - such as Mr. Jackson, Mr. Sharpton, Mr. Farrakhan - have made their careers and lucrative fortunes by fomenting racial grievance and demonizing the 'white power structure,'" Land said during his show, Richard Land Live.

His comments upset many black Southern Baptist leaders, one of whom called for Land's resignation.

The controversy got more intense when a blogger revealed that Land's commentary was copied nearly verbatim from an editorial in the Washington Times.

After an investigation, the board of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission on Friday reprimanded Land for the comments and the plagiarism.

Southern Baptist Convention leaders said the comments were "very hurtful and offensive to the Trayvon Martin family and to many in the African-American community, including hundreds of thousands of African-American Southern Baptists. Damage was done to the state of race relations in the Southern Baptist Convention."

Land, who is the commission's president, has previously apologized for both. He issued a statement to the Baptist Press, stating:

"This whole process was conducted in a Christian manner by Christian gentlemen."

Local NAACP leaders applauded the reprimands and said they know Land's remarks go contrary to the SBC's efforts to repair race relations.

"Dr. Land has shown a penchant for off-the-cuff kind of knee-jerk, leap-before-you-look kind of responses in the past," said Walter Searcy, with the Nashville NAACP. "I thought that the denomination's response to his remarks was appropriate."

Through a spokesperson, Land declined an interview for this story.

Some groups are taking issue with the fact that Land will continue to lead the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

In a statement from the Nashville-based Baptist Center for Ethics, they said allowing Land to continue as an official without unpaid leave will create a "banquet of distasteful consequences" for the Southern Baptist Convention.

Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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